Category: General

Adobe Creative Suite 5 running on a MacBook Air: Is it for you?

Apple MacBook Air and Adobe CS5My wife has been in need of a new laptop for a while now. Typically she’s delighted to get my old hand-me-downs when I upgrade. But this time around, she wanted something a little newer.

My one year old 13″ MacBook Pro was churning along just fine, so I wasn’t really thinking about upgrades for myself when she finally had enough and told me to get my butt to the Apple Store. She doesn’t need a powerful laptop, just plenty of storage for her music, photos and videos. I had a tough decision to make, because I’ve already been eye-balling a new 27″ iMac to replace my six year old MacPro sitting beneath my desk. I didn’t want to spend too much, but I do need a capable laptop for working on the go.

Enough of the background, what did I buy?

After reading a few forum discussions, playing with the demo units at the Apple Store, and three days of inner termoil, I decided to toss caution to the wind. I went with the 13″ MacBook Air, with the 1.7 GHz Core i5 processor, stock 4 GB of RAM, and the 128 GB SSD storage drive. My only question remaining to be answered was how would the Adobe Creative Suite perform on this lower-spec laptop? (more…)

How to apply for a creative position at an ad agency or design firm

I’ve been a part of the hiring process for positions in the creative department at several ad agencies and in-house design departments over the years. I’ve seen a lot of creative resumés and portfolio books, and even more that never made the cut – but it wasn’t because they lacked talent.

The vast majority of the applicants made grave mistakes when it comes to their potential of getting hired. The bulk of the mistakes are simple, and obvious when you think about it.

Successful job interview

Selling yourself correctly results in a winning resumé and portfolio

The Resumé

Because we’re talking about a creative position, your resumé has the luxury of being creative. Take advantage of it. The first thing I do to weed-out resumés is throw away every last one that contains an “objective” paragraph on it. It’s a waste of space. I Know what your objective is, it’s to get the job we’re offering – otherwise you wouldn’t be applying for it, right? Having an objective graph on your resumé tells me you aren’t very creative, and probably used a template.

The next thing I look at is the individual job titles you’ve listed, and the type of information you’ve provided under each one. I know what an art director does, I don’t need you to list 25 typical tasks that EVERY art director does. Instead, use that space to share some successes, or out-of-the-ordinary situation you were a part of. Also consider sharing awards you’ve won in that space. (more…)

The Steve Jobs Formula and Why It Works

Steve JobsI quickly grew tired of reading about Steve Jobs retiring last week. Practically every tech-blog filled their front page with article after article covering it. There were a few that I found interesting, one of which is The Steve Jobs Formula and Why It Works, by Scott Fulton at ReadWriteWeb.

The article covers six key things that we can look to Apple, and Steve Jobs, for examples of how and why it works.

  • Make it all one platform
  • Make your mission a cause
  • Make them look into your eyes
  • Fight to the death, every time, all the time
  • Surround yourself with smarter people, then own them like your children
  • Let the world see you fall, then rise again

While the article is focused on Steve Jobs and what he’s done at Apple, when you read it you can see that it’s really a formula for successful business in general.

Of course, you’ll have the opportunity to read more about Steve Jobs, including more about his resignation this past week, in November when Steve Jobs (the biography) by Walter Isaacson is released.

“Why Apple is done inventing new devices” – Huh? Did they just say that?

I visit a lot of Mac-related websites on a daily basis. Of all those that I visit, I’ve come to realize that none are so off-based, sensationalistic, and void of any reasonable credibility as; or as I often refer to them, Cult of Morons.

Their latest piece of link-bait is a piece titled “iPod. iPhone. iPad. Why Apple is Done Inventing New Devices.” This mind-numbingly long article (which I won’t even bother linking to) asserts that Apple will stop inventing new devices and focus on finding new ways to make money selling what they already have. For decades. Yeah, you read that right.

What bothers me about the article is not the 15 paragraphs of well-known Apple history that their target readership don’t need a lengthy reminder of, though that’s 50% of the mind-numbing part. No, it’s the idea that Apple has ever “invented” anything at all.

Steve Jobs

Does this look like a guy who wants to sit back and collect money on yesterday's success?

Maybe I have a definition of “invention” that differs from Cult of Morons. It’s this off idea of Apple inventing things that bothers me, and the assertion that Apple will simply sit back for the next decade and try to milk customers for more money using nothing but what they already offer, such as iOS, to do so.

To truly understand what Apple will do in the next decade, you can look back at Apple’s storied history to see that Apple takes existing problems and finds creative, appealing solutions for them that motivate people to buy. Constantly. (more…)

Rant: Design trends and techniques you should avoid – mostly because I hate them!

I had one of those weeks. You know what I mean, one where every little thing just ticks you off to no end. This week I saw numerous designs that made my stomach churn and burn to the point that I wanted to vomit profusely.

Stupid handshake

Don't use these photos. Don't tick me off. Just don't do it!

Whatever you do, don’t let me catch you doing any of the following things, or I’ll sneak into your house and delete your internets, beotch!

  • Stupid, overused, predictable, “stock photo-y” stock photos – You probably know what I’m talking about, and yet you use them anyway, right? Well friggin STOP! A bunch of ethnically-diverse yuppies dressed in 1980’s business attire doesn’t make your design look more professional. And neither does the infamous business handshake.
  • 6pt type on your website – the trend died 10 years ago. It ticks me off, probably because I’m getting older and my eyes aren’t quite what they used to be. But I’m not alone. I promise you, not matter how cool you think it looks, it doesn’t – and everyone hates you for it.
  • Screened image behind your text – In about 1989, it was kinda cool to screen a photo behind your entire ad and expect your viewer to accept that 10pt Times New Roman running across a fat guy wearing a black & gold striped shirt was eye-catching. Those people are dead now, real designers systematically killed them off while nobody was looking.
  • Dots instead of dashes – here’s another one that’s not hip, cool or even remotely unique. Putting dots between the digits in a phone number is a trend that just won’t seem to die. There’s a reason they chose (100) 867-5309 to represent a phone number. It’s easier to read than 100.867.5309. Get over it! (Thanks Frank, for bringing this up on your Facebook page!)
  • Drop shadows on everything – AlienSkin software introduced a simple plugin to add drop shadows to objects and type in Photoshop decades ago. While I love their software, I hate the way so many n00b designers abuse them. If you manage to limit yourself to using only one drop shadow on the cover of your next brochure design, for the love of God, please make sure it’s not on a white background.
  • Filter-flurry – Photoshop filters are cool, I love-em dearly. I have dozens of effects filters, hundreds of PS Styles, and a boat-load of PS Actions installed – and still only manage to use them once in a blue-moon (which I actually have an Action file to create, by the way).
  • 800×600 website design – Uh, I know you’re 800-year-old instructor in design school told you it was the “standard,” but he’s an ignorant buffoon who hasn’t worked in the business in decades. 800×600 web design was the standard when most people had a 13-15 inch CRT monitor caving-in their desktop. Today, 20-inch LCD screens are the norm, so a 960 to 1100 pixel design width is easily handled by everyone in business, right down to your granny’s crappy little $300 Dell.
  • Grey text – So you agree that 6pt type is too small, but you somehow come to the conclusion that 12pt condensed type set in 20% black is the way to go? Gimme a friggin break. Do you WANT people to read it or NOT? At least go with a 40-60% black for crying out loud.
  • Not giving the viewer what’s expected – Ok, this is a really fine line. But learn to accept the fact that if you’re selling wood deck stain or sealer, rain drops on a blue background isn’t going to frigging cut it. You’re most likely going to have to put a photo of a impossibly beautiful wood deck in a lush green backyard in the ad. Oh, and make sure you sprinkle the deck down with water first.

Those are just a few things that will surely tick me off, and most likely your viewers as well. Did I miss anything?

The Graphic Mac Link Box #5

The Graphic Mac Link BoxA collection of interesting or otherwise helpful links I’ve come across recently that you may not have seen:

9 Things you should do after installing OS X Lion
No operating system is perfect, though. At least, not for everyone, and especially not right out of the (non-existent) box. Looking to make your Lion experience that much better, we’ve bundled together a bevy of tips and tricks that you really ought to have ready on your first trip into the new OS.

What Potential Impact Can HTML5 Have on SEO?
How might HTML5 change the way we approach SEO? What are the possible impacts of HTML5 in search engine algorithms? A few questions answered in this informative article.

10 Free Slab Serif Fonts
You can never have too many fonts available. This is a small, but nice collection.

Instaport for Instagram
A simple way to export all your Instagram photos to other social services or your local hard drive.

40 High-Quality InDesign Tutorials
New to Adobe InDesign? DesignMag has a great collection of informative tutorials to help you learn the ins-and-outs of the most popular page layout and design application.

9 tips for emailing important people (clients)
Here are 9 top-notch tips for writing emails that make it as easy as possible for the recipient to send you a response.

Humor: Truth in advertising

Truth in advertising – humorous and sad at the same time. Sad because it isn’t THAT far-fetched. Warning: a bit of foul language in this video

The Graphic Mac Link Box #4

The Graphic Mac Link BoxA collection of interesting or otherwise helpful links I’ve come across recently that you may not have seen:

Quicken replacements for OS X Lion
If you rely on Quicken 2007 for your personal finance management AND plan on upgrading to Mac OS X Lion, you have a decision to make: switch to another app, or don’t upgrade to Lion. TUAW breaks down your alternatives.

From chaos to an organized Desktop with Shelves
DesktopShelves is a new app that helps you fight the clutter on your Desktop by organizing files on shelves. A shelf the size of 5 icons holds 20 files. For those obsessed with a clean desktop, this might be the answer.

3 Column Reader Safari extension makes Google Reader beautiful
3 Column Reader turns Google Reader into a 3 column reading experience, perfect for a widescreen LCD screen. If you use Google Reader, this is a great extension for Safari.

Make a Bootable Mac OS X 10.7 Lion Installer from a USB Flash Drive
For those concerned about having a bootable backup of Mac OS X Lion, fear not. OSX Daily hooks you up with a great walk-through of the process. I’ll be giving this one a shot the moment I get my hands on the final version of Lion.

Death To The QR Code
QR Codes are everywhere – and they’re usually not used in convenient places. Here’s a hint, advertisers, QR codes on a billboard aren’t going to work… we’re busy driving a car at the moment! reflects on the subject.

QR Code generator for Safari
Ok, so the previous article didn’t convince you, and you want to create your own QR Codes anyway. QR Code Generator for Safari puts a button in your toolbar which when clicked generates a QR Code for the page you’re on.

Free Adobe Creative Suite printing guide available for download

Adobe Creative Suite 5 Printing Guide

The Adobe Creative Suite 5 Printing Guide is available for download

Many users of Adobe’s Creative Suite software are unaware that Adobe provides an excellent printing guide in PDF format to aid in learning the ins-and-outs of successful commercial printing using the Creative Suite apps

The guide is an excellent resource for new users, serving as a training manual, as well as a brush-up for experienced users. The guide covers a wide-range of printing-related topics in Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator and Acrobat. The free Creative Suite 5/5.5 Printing Guide is a 22MB download.